Re-live the joy that was 2016 via topical cartoons

It's time for my traditional look back at the past 12 months via the medium of topical cartoons. And it's 2016 ... what a year to look back on! 

We begin in space, where British astronaut Tim Peake started the year. But he seemed to spend rather a lot of time on his phone, tweeting ...

There were new "nanny state" guidelines on alcohol limits ...

Over-sensitive university students continued to baffle and annoy in equal measure ...

The crime trial of the year could become a film, we were told ...

The EU referendum dominated the news ...

Then came the shock result ...

Amid all this, there was only really one "silly season" story, Pokemon Go ...

And a little good news with the Olympics...

But there were problems amid the Opposition (again) ...

And I've not even mentioned the endless parade of high-profile deaths in this year ...

And then, as if all that wasn't bad enough ...

2016 was a year in which how terrible and relentless the news was became news itself ...

Who knows what 2017 will bring? Have a happy new year, but remember ...


Merry Brexmas and a Trumpy new year!

Here are a couple of cartoons on what have undeniably been the biggest stories of the year: Brexit and Trump. The Brexit gag features in the Christmas issue of Private Eye and the Trump one was drawn for a company Christmas card.

Have a very merry Christmas and a happy new year, all!
"He's a loose cannon online, but I don't think he's going to DO all this stuff ..."

Click here to buy Royston's cartoon book


The Snowman revisited

Cartoon from the December issue of Skip Hire Magazine. It was good fun to imagine a Donald Trump snowman.
Click here to buy Royston's cartoon book


The pros and cons of "going viral"

Every now and then a published cartoon goes beyond the boundaries of the printed page and gets a lot of coverage online, as happened last week with this Private Eye gag.

I'm not sure exactly how many tweets/retweets you have to get for it to be classed as "going viral" but the phrase was used by The Poke.

Of course, as all cartoonists know, you can die of exposure (a phrase often used when people offer little or zero money for a cartoon but claim "it'll be good exposure for you") and you don't see any extra financial benefits from a cartoon going viral.

It can increase followers quite a bit though, which can mean more work in the long term. However, that can only happen if you credit the cartoonist when sharing work online, and, if possible, include their Twitter name (or Facebook page, web link, whatever is appropriate).

The Poke post, above, did not do so originally but they redressed the balance when I asked them to in a tweet. Tom Kilroy who posted the version that got the most retweets did likewise.

I balk at approving of websites that make money from adverts using such shared cartoons as free clickbait content, but generally I try to see online sharing, by individuals at least, as a positive thing.
You don't get a lot of direct feedback as a freelance cartoonist, so when this does occur (other cartoons such as "Votey McVoteface" have been shared a lot online) it's nice to know that a cartoon has struck a chord. But please, don't forget to credit the cartoonist.


Better get used to drawing Trump

Cartoon drawn for the cover of the November issue of The Jester, magazine of the Cartoonists' Club of Great Britain, which had "clowns" as its theme. To think, when I drew it in October I was worried that it may soon go out of date! I think I'll be drawing him some more ...

Cheer yourself up with Royston's cartoon books


At the new Hastings Cartoon Festival

I took part in the first Hastings & 1066 Country Cartoon Festival on the weekend of October 15 and 16, which was held to coincide with the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings.

Above is my big board cartoon (click to enlarge) created on the Sunday, the Big Festival Day, in a marquee on The Stade, on the seafront. It was fun to draw parallels between events in 1066 and 2016.

On the Saturday I took part in a cartoonists’ panel discussion and Q&A with The Surreal McCoy and Glenn Marshall. We showed our cartoons on a big screen and talked about influences, generating ideas, feedback and, inevitably, rejection.

There was also a festival exhibition in The Stade Hall, with lots of gags on a historical theme. The top one here was recently published in The Spectator.
I designed the festival logo, seen below on a T-shirt. They wanted something about King Harold with the arrow in his eye, so a dip pen seemed the obvious substitute for a cartoon festival. Don't try this at home, kids.

All in all, a great debut for this festival. Let's hope we can do it all again next year.

I wrote a longer report at the PCO blog. And you can visit the festival website at: 1066cartoonfestival.co.uk


Surprise role as wedding cartoonist

Recently I did day of live drawing at a wedding held at the Turner Contemporary gallery in Margate. Between the ceremony and afternoon drinks the guests had a chance to view the works on display, which allowed for a few art-based jokes (above).

This was not the typical kind of job cartoonists do at weddings (i.e. live caricatures). Instead I drew a series of cartoons telling the story of the day -- much as I would do at conferences and workshops -- from the arrival of guests, through the ceremony and afternoon reception and up to the first dance in the evening.

Here are a couple of excerpts. Each page was drawn with a cartoon frame, to go with the gallery location, and I used yellow and grey, the wedding colours, so they fitted right in.

The cartoons got a great reaction (even the magician was impressed and he does magic) and certainly added something a little bit different to the day. A fun job.

Click here to buy Royston's cartoon book


We have the technology

Take a behind-the-scenes" look at a cartoon from a recent issue of Private Eye. See every mistake and rethink! Drawn with ProCreate on the Apple iPad Pro.

Click here to buy Royston's cartoon books


Herne Bay Cartoon Festival 2016

Here are a couple of my cartoons from the exhibition Postcards from the Seaside, part of this year's Herne Bay Cartoon Festival, in which many of the cartoons were modern takes on traditional seaside postcards, many in the style of Donald McGill, the acknowledged master of the genre.

The cartoon above refers to McGill's notorious, much-prosecuted postcard "A Stick of Rock, Cock?", below.

As usual there was a live event in the Bandstand on Herne Bay seafront, where there was much drawing of cartoons. Photo by Kasia Kowalska.

Here are a couple drawn on the shared boards (i.e. with lots of other cartoonists) during the afternoon. It's always nice to hear laughter for cartoons that have previously been rejected by several magazines, as these two have. Clearly this was an audience of great wit and taste ...

"Did you know you may be entitled to PPI compensation?"

"Ah, summer! The sun! The long nights! The annual Labour leadership campaign!"

I put together a photo report on the event which you can see at the Professional Cartoonists' Organisation blog.

It's another Winnie

"We need to address the heffalump in the room."

A recent Spectator magazine cartoon that is, oddly enough, not my first Wiinie-the-Pooh-based cartoon this year.

Click here to buy Royston's cartoon books


Post-Brexit hat-trick

I managed to get three cartoons in the Private Eye "Leave Special", a feat I was rather chuffed with but I'd rather we hadn't voted to leave the EU for it to happen!

All three were on a post-Brexit theme, here's one of them.
Click here to buy Royston's cartoon book


In praise of gag cartoons

Here's an article I wrote for the Procartoonists blog five years ago, when I published my first collection of cartoons:

Whenever the media spotlight is turned on cartoons it is often those of a political variety. These cartoons shout the loudest and have news impact, but I think it's time to speak up for its modest cousin: the gag cartoon.

I have been drawing gag cartoons for the magazine market for about 15 years. I love the process of coming up with new ideas and, hopefully, getting them published.

Recently I've been sifting through my drawings from magazines such as Reader's Digest and Private Eye in order to put together a book collection. I'm not friends with any famous people so I had to write my own foreword for the book and decided to to put down exactly what it is I like so much about gag cartoons as a medium.

This was the crux of piece: "The single-panel joke is a perfect, self-contained unit of comedy, an instant hit of humour that doesn't demand much of your time."
I once heard the writer Will Self describe gags as "the haiku of cartoons". That may sound a little pretentious (from Will Self? Surely not?) but I think it's true, a gag cartoon is like a poem. Or a one-liner joke, perhaps. It is a small, carefully crafted article.

It doesn't have the grandeur or the, let's be honest, occasional self-importance of the political cartoon, but it is still designed to provoke a reaction: hopefully laughter.

I have heard some people claim that the gag cartoon is in some way an old-fashioned form. This is probably because it is so closely connected with magazines, so people think of crumpled, yellowing copies of Punch in the dentist's waiting room. Also, magazines and newspapers are "dead-tree technology", and that, we are constantly being told, is on the way out.

But, when you think about it, the gag cartoon is actually perfectly suited for this age of the short attention span and sits just as easily on a web page, or an iPad app, as a magazine page.

And long may it continue to do so.

Click here to buy Royston's cartoon books


Referendum cartoon

Click to enlarge. Just because a cartoon is for a magazine about waste and recycling, doesn't mean it can't be about the EU referendum! From the May issue of Skip Hire Magazine.

Click here to buy Royston's cartoon book


Spectator cartoons

Here are a couple of recent cartoons from The Spectator. One on over-sensitive university students closing down debate (which is proving to be a rich seam for joke cartoonists ...)
And one about a recent high-profile crime ...

Click here to buy Royston's cartoon books


Private Eye cartoons

"I only drink Arts and Craft beer."

Yikes, my blog posts seem to have become more or less monthly (!) so I'd better get one in before this one ends. Here's a couple of recent cartoons from Private Eye.
"Before I begin, I should issue a Tigger warning."

The latter landed me, not for the first time, in "Pedantry Corner" on the letters page ...

I knew that as I read the books to my kids when they were young, but putting "The House and Pooh Corner" introduces unnecessary detail and ruins the immediacy of the joke. Here's another example of that.

The cartoon also seems to have kicked off one  of those Private Eye repeated jokes (it would probably be called a meme on the internet) and cartoonists have weighed in with warnings for trigonometry and Trigger from Only Fools and Horses. I've also got another in the latest issue.